The revolving door of luxury fashion’s creative directors keeps turning — and when another announcement of a recently filled or vacated position is made, it tends to take place on Instagram.
On Thursday morning, Givenchy announced that ex-Chloé creative director Clare Waight Keller was in as the French design house’s new artistic director, taking over the position last held by Riccardo Tisci. To do so, the brand posted a series of three Instagrams to its feed, which has 7.7 million followers, starting with an image of Hubert de Givenchy, who founded the fashion house in 1952. Then, a quote: “True elegance comes with a natural gesture, an attitude in simplicity,” accompanied by the caption, “1952. 2017.” Finally came the announcement, paired with an image of Waight Keller.
When creative directors are entering and exiting fashion houses at a rapid pace — some stints lasting less than two years — it’s become difficult for both industry insiders and customers to keep up. From the outside, quick churn can indicate a certain chaos, and rightly so. But when a brand looks first to its Instagram account to share news and signal a new direction, it demonstrates a feeling of control.
“High fashion and luxury brands tend to take a different approach to social media than other types of retailers and brands, to uphold exclusivity, high quality and elusiveness,” said Will McInnes, CMO of social analytics company Brandwatch. “This is through a reigned-in social media presence that is more formal. A move like this demonstrates a sense of control over the brand.”
Givenchy isn’t alone. Those with a sharp eye on Instagram can see fashion brands’ structural changes play out: When Raf Simons accepted his position as chief creative officer at Calvin Klein last year, the brand made the announcement through an Instagram post that was accompanied by a lengthy caption that shared the brand’s new direction, as well as its goals for growth — information that’s typically reserved to a press release or a call with investors. Other brands like DKNY and DVF have signaled big branding moves, like logo changes, on their Instagram accounts.
A well-timed Instagram post also controls the news cycle. Fifteen minutes after Keller’s announcement post was shared, a WWD “exclusive” news alert declaring the move was sent out via email. Givenchy scooped itself.
To WWD, Givenchy CEO Philippe Fortunato shared a meager elaboration on the straightforward Instagram caption. “[Keller’s] very focused approach will help the brand in building the ongoing momentum we have – and taking it to the next level,” he said.
Instagram announcements have been a constant during Givenchy’s transitional period, one that disrupted the designer brand for the first time in 12 years; Tisci’s long tenure at the brand had become a rare badge in the industry. When he left Givenchy in February, he announced his decision with a post of a sunset on Instagram, and a message thanking Givenchy and parent LVMH for the opportunity. Givenchy responded in kind, posting an image of Tisci and a similarly sappy thank you. The message was clear: No hard feelings.
Breakups between designer and brand don’t always go so smoothly on Instagram. After Hedi Slimane left Saint Laurent in 2016, the brand wiped its Instagram slate clean, leaving only a portrait of his replacement, Anthony Vaccarello, in its place. It wasn’t a great look for the brand. Commenters replied with thumbs-down emojis and expressed that the brand looked “immature.”
“It undermines the brand equity by erasing history on the whim of a new creative director,” said PMX Agency’s Roy DeYoung at the time.